The first day of the 2023 World Athletics Championships has kicked off in Budapest, Hungary.
We have our eyes on Eithiopian-born Dutch runner Sifan Hassan, who is attempting a triple appearance at the preeminent international track and field event with the 1500m, 5,000m, and 10,000m races all slated on her “to-do list.”
Earlier this year, Hassan won the 2023 London Marathon in her marathon debut, finishing the 26.2-mile race in 2:18:33.
Demonstrating her range as a runner, Hassan has qualified for three events at the 2023 World Athletics Championships.
Her triple attempt at the event is officially underway and off to a good start on day one of the 2023 World Athletics Championships, as Sifan Hassan won her heat (Heat 1) of the 1500m prelims this morning, Saturday, August 19, 2023.
Hassan executed a tactful 1500m performance, sitting back in ninth place for much of the race and then closing in a 59.22 last 400m to win the heat in 4:02.92.
However, due to a one-hour rain delay this morning that pushed the 1500m prelims back an hour, Sifan Hassan only has six and a half hours instead of seven and a half hours before she takes to the track again tonight for the 10,000m finals.
Hassan is hoping to take home the 2023 World Athletics Championships gold medal in the 10,000m final, and although she is certainly among the favorites to win, she is up against the best 10,000m women runners in the world, most of whom did not already run a 5000m preliminary heat this morning.That said, given the stellar year that Hassan has had on the track, we are confident that she has it in her to pull out the victory and take home her first of the three 2023 World Athletics Championships titles she’s vying for.
Also executing strong races in this morning’s 1500m women’s prelims, Americans Nikki Hiltz, Cory McGee, and Sinclaire Johnson also all advanced in the event, giving hope that an American could potentially win the women’s 1500m at this year’s World Athletics Championships.
Of course, they’ll have to take down Hassan, which will be no easy task, but part of what makes events like the World Athletics Championships—or any running race for that matter—so exciting is the potential for breakout performances and upsets.
There was already one surprising outcome, as Ugandan 1500m runner, Winnie Nanyondo, finished in 12th place in heat 4 of the women’s 1500m preliminary heats this morning. Nanyondo has made the last three global finals in the 1500m, but is already eliminated for this year’s World Athletics Championships 1500m race.
There were also some really fast performances in the women’s 1500m preliminary heats.
For example, in heat 3, Kenya’s Nelly Chepchirchir cruised through for the win in a time of 4:00.87, which is super fast for just a prelim.
Plus, the top eight women in the heat all ran 4:02.15 or faster.
In all previous years, there used to be both automatic (based on place) and time qualifiers for advancing in the events in the World Athletics Championships in events with rounds before finals.
However, for the 2023 World Athletics Championships, World Athletics has done away with this qualifying system for distance events.
Now, there are no time qualification cut-offs, which is a shame for the women in heat 3 because, under the prior qualifying rules, all top eight women in heat 3 of the women’s 1500m prelims would have advanced based on place or time.
In the 2023 World Athletics Championships, only the top 6 places in the heat move forward, no matter what time any runner posts.
This meant that Italy’s Sinta Vissa (the 2022 NCAA champion) and Irish and University of Washington runner Sophie O’Sullivan, who ran 4:01.66 and 4:02.15, respectively, were eliminated.
This may seem “unfair” given that both women ran faster than even Sifan Hassan, who won her heat, as well as the winners of the other two heats, and many of the other women who advanced in the women’s 1500m, but that’s how the 2023 World Athletics Championships qualifying system for distance events will work.
It will be interesting to see if the new World Athletics qualifying system holds for next year or reverts to allowing automatic qualifying spots based on time as well for the 2024 World Athletics Championships.
You can find full results from the event and all of the future events at the 2023 World Athletics Championships this week here.
You can learn how to watch the World Athletics Championships here.